The Umweltzentrum-Archiv

Münster’s library of social movements. Grass roots history.

In contrast to parties and institutions, there are no official places which preserve the history of social movements. For this reason, particularly since the emergence of new social movements, for example the women’s movement, the peace movement and the anti-atom movement,  “movement archives” were created throughout the Federal Republic during the seventies. These can often be found in info stores and libertarian centres.

Around 270 grass roots archives exist today, largely unnoticed by the public, in Germany and one of the most nationally important is Münster’s Umweltzentrum-Archiv (Environmental Centre Archive).

History of the Umweltzentrum-Archiv

In 1980, members of the Münster working group Umwelt (AKU) founded the Umweltzentrum (UWZ) Münster (Münster Environmental Centre). This should be a centre “for all those who wanted to work, self-organised, independently of parties and organisations.”

With the founding of this ecological and social movement store, the Umweltzentrum-Archiv was also formed. Over the years, this archive of social movements, run voluntarily and funded by book and newspapers donations, continually grew and became one of Germany’s biggest alternative archives.

The alternative library currently holds approx.. 320 m of shelf space of material and has 15,000 titles in its databank with 33,000 key words. This material has been collected by many people who are politically active in citizen’s and social movements, particularly from Münster and North Rhine-Westphalia. Subjects incorporate the work of existing and former UWZ groups and include: the environment, anti-atom policy, internationalism, anti-militarism, criminalisation, women’s movement, anarchism, health, Münster, alternatives, anti-fascism, history, theory and philosophy.

A new start

In December 2004, around 40 activists took part in a plenum of the Friends and Users of the Environmental Centre. Seven men and women from various left and libertarian Münster groups were called to set up a “neutral” support group for the Umweltzentrum-Archiv to secure its continued existence. Today, the Umweltzentrum-Archiv can be found in the rooms of the Don Quijote intercultural centre. Thanks to the dedication of the store group which is, together with the association, dedicated to the upkeep of the archive and enabling public access with a daily presence service, the library could be extended further.

Goals of the Umweltzentrum-Archiv e.V.

“We want to make material on social movements accessible to the public and document the history of non-parliamentary movements. We see it as a political task to keep history alive from its grass roots,” is written in an article of the Umweltzentrum-Archiv Association in Graswurzelrevolution (Grass Roots Revolution) no. 299 in May 2005. For this reason, the

Umweltzentrum-Archiv collects books, brochures, magazines, flyers, placards, newspapers, calendars, CDs, videos, internet articles and image and sound material. Focus is on the early sixties to the present day. The archive material features primarily “grey literature” which was largely ignored by official historiography and is rarely found in university and city libraries.

This national project, important for social movements, is financed solely by donations and welcomes support, also in the form of voluntary work and personal dedication.

Bernd Drücke
 

Contact:

Umweltzentrum-Archiv e.V. / www.uwz-archiv.de
c/o Dr. Bernd Drücke / Redaktion Graswurzelrevolution, Breul 43, D-48143 Münster, Germany. Tel.: 0049 (0) 251/4829057, redaktion [at] graswurzel [dot] net

Umweltzentrum-Archiv Münster, c/o Archiv für alternatives Schrifttum, Schwarzenberger Str. 147, D-47226 Duisburg, Germany, Tel.: 0 049 (0) 20 65 / 747 15, Fax: 0 20 65 / 747 37, afas-archiv(at)t-online(dot)de, www.afas-archiv.de